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Removal of the obligation of use for cycle paths
Several changes in the road traffic regulations, the associated administrative regulations and relevant court rulings have led to a further removal of the obligation of use for cycle paths. In a research project of the Insurers Accident Research (UDV) it was examined how the removal of the obligation of use for cycle paths affects the behavior of road users and road safety.
The study shows that the majority of cyclists cycle on the existing cycle paths irrespective of whether it is obligated to use them or not. Accordingly, no significant changes in the accident or conflict characteristics were found once the obligation of use was removed. Cycle paths that are no longer required to be used are therefore just as safe or unsafe as they were before the obligation of its use was removed. On the one hand, this is a positive result, because there are no significant new conflicts or accidents due to the hardly changing use of the cycle path or the road. On the other hand, however, this also means that safety issues that existed prior to the removal of the obligation of use still persist after its removal. Above all, the typical accidents during turning in and crossing at junctions were still dominant even on the cycle paths that were not required to be used.
Since the cycle paths that have become non-mandatory continue to be used by the great majority of cyclists, they must on no account be treated as in any way second-class cycle paths. This is also true if the road authority or public agency responsible for the cycle path changes once it has been made non-mandatory. Any safety problems on the non-mandatory facilities must be resolved just as they are on mandatory cycle paths.
The UDV therefore generally recommends designing existing cycling facilities, regardless of whether or not they are mandatory, in compliance with the relevant guidelines and regulations (e.g. the General Administrative Regulations of the Road Traffic Regulations (VwV-StVO), the Directives for the Design of Urban Roads (RASt 2006) and the Recommendations for Cycling Facilities (ERA 2010) ). There should be a particular focus on the known accident and conflict blackspots. The design of safe intersections is particularly important in this context.